Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Monday, 15 February 2010

Yemen rebels begin handover of Saudi Arabian soldiers

Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Sultan inspects Saudi Troops [file photo January 2009]
Saudi Arabia was drawn into the conflict in November 2009

Rebels in Yemen have reportedly handed over one Saudi soldier, captured during cross-border fighting, as part of a ceasefire agreement.

The Houthi rebel group in northern Yemen is believed to be holding at least four other Saudi Arabians.

In November the rebels invaded Saudi Arabia after accusing the country of aiding the Yemeni government in its six-year battle against them.

On Thursday both the Saudi and Yemeni governments agreed to a peace deal.

The soldier, identified as Yahya Abdullah al-Khuzai, had a leg injury, the news agency AFP reported.

Peace deal

The rebels had held the Saudi territory for several months, killed at least 130 Saudi soldiers and taken five captive.

The Saudi and Yemeni government responded with massive bombardments by air and artillery and a push into the rebel stronghold of Saada.

The rebels, known as Houthis after the family name of their leaders, offered a peace deal - but it was rejected by both governments until the Houthis agreed to six conditions, which included the return of captured Saudis.

They say the region wants more autonomy and the government is repressing them because they belong to the minority Zaidi Shia sect.

More than 250,000 people have been displaced in the region.

The Yemeni government faces two other conflicts - with southern separatists and militants sympathetic to al-Qaeda.

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Asia Times Online US keeps its eye on al-Qaeda in Yemen - 4 hrs ago
People's Daily Online Yemeni rebels return captive Saudi soldier to ceasefire committee - 8 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Yemen Houthis free Saudi captive - 24 hrs ago
Reuters UK Yemen Shi'ite rebels hand over Saudi soldier - 25 hrs ago
France24 Yemen Shiite rebels free first captive Saudi soldier - 27 hrs ago

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